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LAist Band Interview: Remote (Part 1 of 2)

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PART 1 of 2

Fronted by brothers Tal and Ran Pink, Remote prides itself on constantly pushing the creative envelope. Although they mix both mainstream and experimental sounds on Bird's Eye View, Remote's strength can be credited to the band's consistent attention to both the music and lyrics. Catchy harmonies, masterfully spun by Tal and Ran, are the common thread which keep listeners coming back for more.

This week LAist sat down for an informal chat with Remote. The band discusses their artist-centric label Fonogenic, upcoming Cine-Space events and their take on the LA music scene.

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Can you quickly list who's who in the band?

  • Ran Pink - lead vocals, piano guitar and co-writer
  • Tal Pink - lead vocals, acoustic guitar and co-writer
  • Ethan Schreiber – bass
  • Jason Pipkin – drums
  • Mike Lewis – electric Guitar

How long have you been performing together?

Remote: A year and a half...We just took awhile until we figured out the sound we wanted. We started out as an acoustic 4-piece band, but then we felt that we needed something—the electric guitar element—in the band for the live show and in general.

How did you pick the name Remote?

Ethan: I remember the exact sequence. We were originally called "Magnet." As soon as we decided to go with that, someone came out with an album called "Magnet." So we were milling about in the back yard, and Ran was like, "What about Remote Control?" An I was like, "What about The Remotes?" And Tal was like, "What about Remote? We just sort of like the connotation--the distance idea. For whatever reason, we felt it matched the music.

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What projects were you involved with prior to Remote?

Tal: Ran and I were in a project called Mankind Liberation Front, which had a couple of records put out by RCA and Sony.

Ran: We kind of had half-attempts at releases... We had great records, but, you know, not really much in the way of success with the labels. It's kind of the same sort of record-label-hurting-the-artist type of story. The record never came out...it took us a long time to get over that. Then Tal and I finally decided we wanted to do something really new, something exciting to us.

Ethan: I was playing in Sacrilicious (sic), an LA band, and then [did] a fair amount of session work as a bass player. I was also...writing music for TV and a few documentaries. But this is way better, I must say. Way more fun!

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Mike: I was just developing my new wave, washy-guitar sound. I played in a few 80s covers bands and did some session work. I did a little studio work [too].

Describe your creative process for writing composing the music?

Ran: There [are] a lot of times that I'll sit at the piano and come up with an idea. Then I bring it to the band. Tal will mess around with something in the background. Maybe some lyrics will come about that are memorable enough to write down. There's no real science to it. Sometimes we just record ourselves and come up with a whole new melody that we've been recording for a couple of months. We're really open to changing and fine-tuning our music until we're 100% happy with it.

Tal: The answer is, really, the music comes first. It's...always a painful process to create a song lyrically. It's always the last thing. It starts with a lyrical concept. But when we really fall in love with a song, we try to think to ourselves we can't compromise—We've got to do it justice and get really caught up in the lyrical process.

How does the LA music scene compare to other cities?

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Ran: LA is a tough crowd. You have a lot of people in the business.

Ethan: Since we started getting this Fonogenic thing going, it feels like there's a sense of community. We see the same bands over and over again and kind of developing relationships and finding bands and people that you like and respect. That's been a real positive thing for me. I've been playing in LA for a lot of years already and Fonogenic is the community I always knew that there could be.

Tal: It's kind of a selfish thing for us especially to try to find a place that we could play and be part of... that wasn't just an assembly of bands that either hate to play, or convince a certain number of friends to come (and then the friends leave after).

I think the idea was to how do we put together...solid acts so people would stay longer than they normally would? It's definitely like Ethan said, since we started looking out for the artists involved, it's amazing... it feels like we were in the dark. LA is one of those places, especially since it's a desert, and everyone is so spread out and unless there is something you'll never get a chance to meet or really connect meaningfully.

What's the biggest challenge for a new band in the LA music scene?

Remote: It's like iTunes in that [Fonogenic] is a digital download store... But, we generally find the artists locally and...we have a direct relationship with the artist. So, when a fan downloads music from the site they actually feel like they're supporting the artist directly.We're trying to find stuff rather than sit around and have people submit stuff. It mirrors the Cine-Space idea. We're trying to create a space online... where people can come to not only get music, but see what their bands are up to... No overhead, no inventory, [we're] just basically giving bands another way for fans to connect with music. We also try to get behind them and feature them for awhile.

We don't just run them through the machine.

Explain your involvement with Cine-Space - and describe the success of that so far?

Tal: It seems like everyone that came fell in love with the venue. And you could see it in their eyes... It's evolved into an exciting night for fans. It's intimate, they can come and stand right next to [artists]. There's no pretense. And, at the same time it's visually interesting because of the facilities.

Ethan: Speaking of the facilities, having the screen is a great thing, too. You can bring the visuals... and sort of complete the experience because people can listen to the album, but they're coming out to see the band, you know. Having that, really just adds the ambiance.

Continue to Part 2 of LAist's Band Interview with Remote.